Dressing up is one of the best things about Halloween. However, it also can be one of the most wasteful, as millions of Americans purchase ready-made costumes, wear them once, then cast them off.
So instead of filling up landfills with once-used plastics and fabrics, get creative, and come up with your own unique look with reused and recycled materials. You'll save money, as well as reduce impact on the planet.
Last year, New Yorker Jonathan Gleich wowed the Greenwich Village Halloween parade with his whimsical Segway Pirate. In summer, he took first prize at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade with his homemade Zoltar creation, again using his Segway as a moving base (so clever!).
Gleich told us he normally commutes to work with his Segway (sans outlandish outfit). See behind-the-scenes photos of Zoltar here. Hopefully some memorable costumes will be in your near future.
Handmade Crocodile Costume
The creative folk over at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made this fearsome crocodile costume out of a cardboard box, some butcher paper, tissue paper and a little tape.
The site gives detailed instructions on how to fold, cut and tape it in the right places. Pair with an old clock and a friend dressed as a recycled Captain Hook for a great theme duo (actually, the Peter Pan possibilities may be endless).
Plus, when you are finished scaring your friends and neighbors with your toothy grin, you can easily recycle the cardboard once again.
Sweet Treats Costumes
Jen Cahill snapped this adorable photo of her daughters in cupcake and cotton candy costumes. These sweet designs were homemade with love from recycled tights, leggings, a laundry basket and bits of fabric. We're sure they love saying "trick or treat"!
Recycled Samurai Costume
This fantastic samurai costume was made from Rubbermaid 32-gallon garbage cans and rubber stoppers. Talk about taking the battle against trash literally!
The costume's creator, Flickr user kudzutech, told TDG that a grateful Rubbermaid has sent him six new garbage cans free for this year's costume. Of course, that's not quite recycling, but we get the idea.
Recycled Umbrella Bat Costume
Winged mammals of the night, bats are extremely beneficial to farmers, as well as natural ecosystems (not to mention anyone plagued by mosquitoes). Unfortunately, bats have long been misunderstood, even persecuted, and their numbers have been dwindling due to habitat loss, pollution and other factors.
But you can show your love for this age-old, warm-blooded symbol of Halloween with a clever, relatively easy costume fashioned from an old umbrella. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories shows you exactly how. The only materials you need are an umbrella and a hooded zippered sweatshirt, as well as some common tools: needle and thread, pins, pliers, scissors and bolt cutters or tin snips.
Lego Shaun of the Dead Costume
North Carolina-based Flickr user CoderKev says he came up with this quirky mash-up in a hurry after his original Halloween plans fell through. He had seen a Lego costume on another site, and somehow came up with the idea of mixing it up with the lead from one of his favorite movies.
On Xenomachina you can get detailed instructions on how to make your own Lego head from Styrofoam and some paint. For the boxy body, find some old cardboard.
Given the enormity of the Lego universe, we're thinking there are a lot of opportunities for individual expression.
Recycled Witch Costume
Much older than Halloween itself is the figure of the witch, which has taken different forms over the centuries in different parts of the world. Now, the classic costume is getting a green makeover, thanks to Lizette Greco of the family collective Grecolaborativo.
Lizette's crafty witch costume was handmade from recycled fabric (the hat came from a thrift store). The cauldron was made from papier-mâché, wire and cork, and the accompanying frog, rat and spider were handmade.
Lizette and her family handmake a delightful array of plush animals and costumes from recycled and reused materials. Most of their designs are based on children's artwork, and they remind all of us to embrace our youthful spirit.
Have a happy, creative Halloween! Check out this video of Zoltar in action:
Photo credits: Courtesy of Jonathan Gleich/segnyc.com, Lenore M. Edman/www.evilmadscientist.com, Jen Cahill, kudzutech/Flickr, Windell H. Oskay/www.evilmadscientist.com, CoderKev/Flickr, Lizette Greco/Grecolaborativo
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.